Why Am I Bleeding After Sex?
Updated: May 15
Imagine you just had sex with your partner and when you look down you notice blood on the sheets. Perhaps you noticed when you went to do the routine ‘pee after sex’ and when you wiped you noticed blood. You know for sure you are not on your period or even expecting it soon and it certainly is not your first time having sex. So then, why are you bleeding? Let’s find out.
Is it normal to bleed after sex?
As scary as it may seem it is not uncommon to bleed after intercourse. Many women experience vaginal bleeding after sex at one time or another. Referred to as postcoital bleeding and affects up to 9% of menstruating women. Usually, there’s probably no cause for concern but it can happen for many reasons. In some cases, it could also indicate underlying health conditions.
What causes the bleeding?
The most common causes for vaginal bleeding after sex both start in the cervix, which is the narrow, tube-like end of your uterus that opens into the vagina. Especially younger people who haven’t reached menopause.
Some of the most common causes of bleeding after sex include:
Vigorous sex can cause small cuts or scrapes to the vagina. This is more likely to happen if you have vaginal dryness due to menopause, breastfeeding, or other factors.
When the skin is dry it becomes extremely vulnerable to damage. Common causes of vaginal dryness include:
having intercourse before being fully aroused
friction during intercourse
chemicals in feminine hygiene products, laundry detergents, and pools
certain medications, including cold medication, asthma medications, some antidepressants, and anti-estrogen drugs
having your ovaries removed
chemotherapy and radiation therapy
Sjögren’s syndrome is an inflammatory disease of the immune system that reduces moisture generated by glands in the body
Any type of infection can cause inflammation of vaginal tissues, making them more vulnerable to damage. These commonly include:
sexually transmitted infection (STI), such as chlamydia
pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), is an infection of the reproductive organs in the lower abdomen, which includes the fallopian tubes, ovaries, cervix, and uterus
cervicitis, which is inflammation of the cervix that occurs as the result of an infection
vulvovaginitis, which is inflammation of the vulva and vagina that often occurs due to an infection
It is considered benign or not harmful. It occurs when the cell type that typically grows on the inside of the cervix grows on the outside instead. Cervical ectropion may result in an inflamed area. This condition usually clears up without treatment, but it can cause spotting and vaginal bleeding.
Cervical or endometrial polyps or fibroids
Polyps and fibroids are tiny noncancerous growths. They commonly grow on the lining of the cervix or uterus, especially in menstruating people, and can cause pain and bleeding.
Endometriosis causes endometrial tissues, the tissues that line the uterus, to grow outside of the uterus. This can cause inflammation, usually in the pelvic region and lower abdomen.
Cancers that impact the reproductive system or urogenital tract can alter vaginal tissues and hormone levels, making them more vulnerable to damage. Irregular vaginal bleeding, including bleeding after sex, is a common symptom of cervical or vaginal cancer.
What would put me at greater risk of bleeding?
You may be at greater risk of postcoital bleeding if you:
aren’t fully aroused before intercourse
have cervical or uterine cancer
recently had a baby or are breastfeeding
are in perimenopause, menopause, or are postmenopausal
When should I see a doctor?
The symptoms you may experience along with postcoital bleeding vary depending on the cause. Speak with a doctor if postcoital bleeding is accompanied by symptoms like:
intense abdominal pain
nausea, vomiting, or lack of appetite
stinging or burning when urinating or during intercourse
lower back pain
unexplained fatigue and weakness
headaches or lightheadedness
abnormally pale skin
bladder or bowel symptoms
What treatment options do I have?
The cause of your vaginal bleeding will determine your treatment. Potential treatment options include:
vaginal moisturizers, available for purchase online.
antibiotics for infections caused by bacteria, such as gonorrhoea, syphilis, and chlamydia
medications for viral infections
surgical removal, cryotherapy, or electrocautery in cases of cervical ectropion
removal of polyps, especially those that cause significant bleeding or appear abnormal
surgery or therapy for cancer
low-dose vaginal estrogen therapy, in the form of creams, suppositories, or rings, for vaginal dryness
Is there anything I can do to prevent it?
Unfortunately minor postcoital bleeding can often not be prevented. However, the following actions tend to greatly reduce the severity and frequency of bleeding. Here are some prevention tips:
avoiding aggressive sexual acts
using water- or silicon-based lubricants during foreplay and intercourse. A range of lubricants are available for purchase online.
avoiding scented or flavoured feminine products
always using condoms, especially when engaging with different sexual partners
talking with sexual partners about anxieties and reluctance surrounding intercourse
trying to become aroused before engaging in intercourse
seeking medical advice and treatment for suspected infections
The bottom line
Bleeding after sexual intercourse is common, especially in people who are no longer menstruating or who have ovarian conditions. It can be caused by dryness, infections, or other conditions such as cervical or uterine cancer. If the bleeding is occasional and mild, you may not need to see a doctor. But if the bleeding occurs often, occurs alongside other symptoms, or you have postcoital bleeding after menopause, it may be best to see a doctor.
Stay informed, stay in control Hope this helps